Stop killing trees! Print advertising is dead! Are businesses still advertising in Valpak these days? Direct “junk” mail campaigns find a fast track to the trash, right? Internet advertising is rapidly eclipsing print, while social media continues to redefine the advertising landscape. Groupon, LivingSocial, LinkedIn, Pandora, and their peers are frantically competing to stake a claim. Facebook, Amazon, and Google are exerting their influence on the market as well.
Where does that leave a print based publisher of hyperlocal homeowner magazines focused on subdivision residents and communities? If you’re N2 Publishing, you find yourself as the 16th fastest growing media company in America, that’s where.
I love what N2 Publishing is doing as a disruptive innovator. They have uniquely integrated state of the art technology, publication design, print production, and distribution from their centralized operation in Wilmington NC. Combined with their effective direct sales channels they are squarely focusing that competitive advantage to serve the unmet needs of residential communities. In the globally connected world of social media, streaming with endless updates, status, and posts, those communities are hungry for homegrown neighborhood stories and content that is about them, for them, and produced by them. Meanwhile, N2’s larger competitors have chosen to ignore that niche and chase the big ad dollars projected for online and mobile advertising.
N2 doesn’t have to look too far into the past for successful examples of disruptive innovation. PC companies disrupted the mainframe and minicomputer markets. Cell phones disrupted fixed line telephony. Discount retailers disrupted full-service department stores. Our environment is ripe for disruptive innovations.
Can a small hyperlocal print based company disrupt Internet advertising markets? For sure! Remember when mainframe computing zealots underestimated PC’s as simple toys with small markets and thin margins that weren’t worth pursuing? So, yes they certainly can. Especially if you’re N2 and continue to fanatically meet the needs of residential communities; and maintain a clear understanding of the changing needs to ensure the company is always positioned to meet those needs better than current and future competitors.
Building upon their fabulous accomplishments, I’d love to see N2 lead the way to fulfill the promise of micro-targeting. N2 has access to more than simple online clicks. They are a vital thread in the fabric of the neighborhood; the offline Facebook of the neighborhood. N2 is positioned to take micro-targeting to a whole new level to establish higher quality connections between residential consumers and local service providers. N2 can learn from companies in other industries like ElectNext that delivers the political data layer on top of traditional news coverage. N2 could deliver the residential data layer on top of the community content. Wouldn’t that significantly change the game for local small business advertisers? Wouldn’t that help residents connect with the right service provider at the right time?
Regardless of the path that N2 takes to continue their hockey stick growth trajectory, they are mindfully doing the right things, for the right purpose, while staying true to their values and themselves. I look forward to watching their continued success and applaud their disruptive innovation.